Sunday, August 31, 2003

I know it's late (2:43 am) but this time of day is my most productive it seems. After a week back of driving the Metro, I can say that I am glad to be back in the driver's seat- literally. After this summer's break, I welcomed the necessary distraction of driving a 36,000 pound, 36 foot long behemoth around in circles all day. And that, despite the fact that I may as well have been sitting in the flaming garbage pits of Gehenna, circa, Jesus' day. It would have to wait until this past week to soar into the 90's because it sure wasn't enough to have the searing heat of a sun baked pavement underneath you PLUS astronomical humidity levels PLUS soupy dewpoints in the 70's PLUS the fact that I am virtually sitting on top of a 220 degree oven (well, it's actually a diesel engine). Did I mention that there's no air conditioning?

Hung out with Dave tonight at Three Trees and was reminded that the students are back and Oxford is a circus again. Regardless, I do like it better when they are here. Was also reminded again of the dead end train ride that the bar circuit is as I observed what appeared to be (under normal circumstances) otherwise salient and composed young adults stripped of their God-given inhibitions. In the ever-present pursuit of the never-ending buzz and tawdry sexual conquests, our youth impale themselves on the altar-sword of relational meaninglessness. Perched and somewhat removed in our corner booth and downing our coffees, we could fathom the depth of the interaction at the bar from our distance.......the gestures, the comings and goings and the body language mostly pointed to hopes of "hooking up." Players hoping to score and would-be scorers getting played. I can imagine that for some poor souls, the experience of human community in their tenure in Oxford will be limited to who it was who held one's head up over the toilet. That may mark the depth of what it means to know and be known as our town continues to contribute to the creation of our future alcoholics. Good ol' alkyhol is god (one of many) here in O-Town and it charts the course of our local uptown economy. But it's not just us I know.

It's a crying shame to be compelled to rely on alcohol and other chemicals as the relational bridge that gets some people where they think they want to go. I got that ticket punched starting in 7th grade but the ride ended my freshman year in high school when I met the real Conductor. I didn't even like the effect of the speed or the marijuana or taste of the cheap beer and Malt Duck I was downing, but it got me "in" with some people. And I sure as crap didn't like having to clandestinely rescue my mother and my 4 year old brother in Atlanta with my Granny and Pap from my drug-crazed step-father while he was out selling some more of their furniture in order to support an alcohol and coke habit. And what's good about my brother now on the tracks of following in his footsteps as I speak? And what of the alcoholics to whom we presently minister in our house church? And what of my friend who came blasting through my door, weeping, falling on his knees seeking and coming to Christ and confessing to me that he was addicted to alcohol and other drugs- this only six months after arriving here in Oxford? What of the hellish isolation from his family that he experienced during his month-long detox? For the grace of God, this guy came out and hasn't used since then, (over three years ago).

I am not talking about people who can, in responsibility, take a drink and not rely on it's ability to alter their consciousness in order to enjoy the company of others. I am not talking about those who can consume and yet not need to chemically bolster their existential significance while isolating others via their drunkenness. And I don't care about toting any denominational positions on the vices of alcohol. All I need is my experience with my own and other's brokenness. I assume no esteemed pedestal for this rant either because my own folks supplied me with the booze when I was a kid.

We cannot do ministry here without confronting the false god of Budweiser from time to time. We're seeing enough to know that we need to continue to pray that, should there be a showdown, God would ignite with fire from heaven the booze-soaked altar to his glory. That's just life here in Oxford and I'm sure elsewhere too.